Filter vs plants and substrate, testing.
In my attempt to control my duckweed, it doesn't play nice, I decided to leave my filter turned off this morning after putting it on the shade side of the tank... I wanted my bright plants to get more light today. This way I KNOW it won't switch sides.
I tested the ammonia levels at lunch and they are no different than the last few days, just over the zero. I am going to leave it off for the rest of the day to see what happens with the levels this evening.
With people going on about the filter media and bacterial nitrification being the most important, this just indicates to me that it may not be as large a factor as it is often considered, which I suspect anyway. The substrate and plants I would expect to more than compensate for the filter's contribution.
I wouldn't want to leave the filter off too long, who knows what creepies might be growing in there in the dark.
It really all depends. In a newer system, the filter is the perfect place for beneficial bacteria to culture. First, there's decomposition bacteria breaking down organic matter and producing ammonia. The filter media becomes a perfect platform for the bacteria colony to form....with food being steadily delivered like good room service in a fancy hotel! However, while the filter may be the high rent district, it's not the only place in town. So in time, BB also develops in the substrate and on hardscape. On top of all of this, we have to take into account that living plants will aggressively process ammonia, which reduces the food supply available to bacteria and thereby reduce the collective colony size.
All in all, once the tank is established (which many believe is about 6 months or so) this creates the balance in this eco-system. Now I say balance although there are obvious fluctuations as plants keep growing, filters get cleaned, water changes...
But it is this balance and distribution of (BB) power that lets you shut down the filter and/or clean it w/o a major upset. Oh there could be an ever so slight mini-cycle, but unlike the new tank, it would hardly be noticed.
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